Sunday, February 21, 2016

Wrestling: Scrivani proud to make Kittatinny history

HAMPTON -- Austin Scrivani will gladly give you a Kittatinny wrestling history lesson. After all, the 138-pound senior grew up idolizing some of the Cougars' stars, including his brother, Garrett, a two-time district champion (2010-11).

Austin took the family tradition a few steps further, winning his fourth title and the Outstanding Wrestler Award as Kittatinny rolled to the team championship in the District 3 Tournament on Saturday at Kittatinny Regional High School.

In doing so, Scrivani (31-1) became just the fifth wrestler at his school to win four district championships -- joining Steve Dalling (1988-91), James DiCataldo (1994-97), Matt Valenti (1999-02) and Will Livingston (2004-06). Only DiCataldo did not win a state championship. In addition, Scrivani is only the 15th wrestler in Sussex County history to win four.

"Hopefully, we can make it four," said Scrivani, when told only three Kittatinny wrestlers have won four district titles and a state championship. "That's the goal. It's an honor to be compared to those guys. Kittatinny is one of the top programs, and those guys are the best of the best."

Scrivani, now 127-27 overall, moved into a tie with Matt Valenti (127-7 from 1998-02) for sixth place on the school's all-time victories list by decking Vernon's Cole Nagle with a headlock in 3:37. Ever dangerous, Scrivani miraculously popped off the bottom on Nagle's attempt for a headlock and eventually got the fall.

"It was the battle of the headlocks," Scrivani said with a grin.

Kittatinny celebrates the program's 11 district title and first since 2013.
Joining Scrivani as champions were teammates Mark DiGeronimo (113) and Nick Klinger (132) -- who won their second straight titles. DiGeronimo, a junior who pinned Pope John's Christian Deehan in 3:18 in a rematch of last year's 106-pound final, will attempt to become just the 12th wrestler for Kittatinny to win at least three titles in 2017.

Pope John's Jake Rotunda (120) and High Point's Jared Kobis (145) also repeated as champions. Kobis won his third to become just the 13th to win at least three for the 'Cats.

Tradition lives on each season at Kittatinny and Scrivani knows full well what it means to wrestle for what is annually one of New Jersey's top programs. As a kid, Scrivani wanted nothing more than to compete for his hometown team.

"It's been my dream since I first started to wrestle for John Gill," he said. "He's the best coach I've ever had. He's a great mentor. He leads us. He forces us to strive for perfection. That's why you get a season like this. I feel honored to wrestle for him."

Words like those are why Gill has continued to coach for 38 seasons at Kittatinny, the first two under the program's founder Carl Bateman, a district champion for Phillipsburg in 1963. Ironically, Gill's coaching mentor was from P'burg, as he's spent an entire Hall of Fame career striving for the same kind of program success.

"They think I don't hear them when they say, 'There goes Coach Gill,'" Gill said of the young Kittatinny wrestlers when he visits at youth matches and tournaments. "I hear 'em."

When told what Scrivani had to say about him, Gill was almost speechless. Almost because he had nearly lost his voice during Friday's quarterfinal round. Knowing him, that was about one or two bouts in.

"That's what it's all about. Wow, what a compliment," Gill said. "I've been lucky. This is a great school and a great community. When I went 11-10 [last season], no one complained and said we need to make a change. I've been very, very fortunate to land here 38 years ago."

As for that state title, Scrivani will most assuredly be the No. 1 seed at 138 pounds for this week's Region 1 Tournament where he's finished third the last two years.

Four to score?

A tremendous 182-pound final bout between Pope John's Jake Brown and Kittatinny's Zach Mafaro -- a sophomore and a freshman -- unfortunately was marred by a scoring gaffe in the third period.

Brown, who had escaped to take a 4-3 lead, converted a takedown and appeared to get two back points in the process for what should have been an 8-3 lead. Mafaro then got a reversal and put Brown on his back for three. At that point, it should have been 8-8. Brown managed to escape late and was on his way to a 9-8 win. Or so most of us thought anyway. As time wound down, the scoreboard read 8-6 and then 8-7 in favor of Mafaro. Apparently, Brown's two back points were never put on the board, and neither lead official Dave Marotta nor mat judge Gary Szucs were aware of it.

Pope John coach was feverishly trying to get the attention of the refs to point out the error, but time expired in the third. After a very brief consultation at the table, which included both coaches and refs, one point was awarded to Brown (for what no one knows) and they headed to sudden-victory overtime, where Brown converted the winning takedown.

The shame of it is, the error should have been caught and corrected much earlier and afforded Mafaro the opportunity to win in regulation. Brown also thought he was winning. What was the big hurry before OT to get back out on the mat without properly reconstructing the bout? In any case, the right wrestler won, but that should never happen with two referees.

"They never should have of started the bout," Gill said. "We think we're winning, 8-6, and then 20 seconds ran off the clock. Brown should have been winning, 9-8. Slow down and get it right. It's just a shame because it was a good bout."

Kittatinny had a great morning by sending nine to the finals and 10 wrestler on to Region 1 -- matching Phillipsburg and Montville for most qualifiers.

"It was a great day. Lot to be proud of," Gill said.

District 3

Team standings

1. Kittatinny (K) 208.5; 2. Pope John (PJ) 166.5; 3. Sparta (S) 161; 4. High Point (HP) 129.5; 5. Newton (N) 104; 6. Jefferson (J) 102; 7. Vernon (V) 18; 8. Wallkill Valley (WV) 16.

Region 1 qualifiers by school

Kittatinny 3+6+1=10; Pope John 4+1+3=8; Sparta 2+4+1=7; High Point 2+1+4=7; Jefferson 1+0+4=5; Newton 2+1+1=4; Vernon 0+1+0=1; Wallkill Valley 0+0+0=0.


106 -- 1-Fr. Joe Aragona (33-0), PJ, md. 2-Fr. Devin Flannery (25-7), HP, 17-6.
113 -- 1-Jr. Mark DiGeronimo (24-6), K, p. 2-Jr. Christian Deehan (27-7), PJ, 3:18.
120 -- 1-So. Jake Rotunda (29-3), PJ, d. 2-Sr. Garrett Gerndt (21-5), S, 7-2.
126 -- 1-Fr. Robert Garcia (29-4), PJ, tf. 3-Sr. Grant Gerndt (25-8), S, 3:26, 18-2
132 -- 1-Sr. Nick Klinger (31-2), K, d. 2-Fr. Wyatt McCarthy (24-9), N, 9-4.
138 -- 1-Sr. Austin Scrivani (31-1), K, p. 2-Sr. Cole Nagle (28-3), V, 3:37.
145 -- 1-Sr. Jared Kobis (22-0), HP, p. 2-Sr. Jake Vanwingerden (20-11), K, 1:46.
152 -- 2-So. Shane Connolly (29-9), J, injury default over 1-Jr. Dylan Minter (19-11), K, 3:27.
160 -- 1-Sr. Lance Fischer (14-4), N, d. 2-Sr. Taylor Molfetto (22-7), K, 5-3.
170 -- 1-Sr. Al Falco (30-5), S, d. 2-Jr. Josh Klimek (26-6), K, 6-2.
182 -- 1-So. Jake Brown (28-6), PJ, d. 3-Fr. Zach Mafaro (24-7), K, 10-8 SV.
195 -- 1-Jr. William Loewen (19-2), S, d. 3-Sr. Luke DeGroat (15-16), K, 7-5.
220 -- 2-Sr. Adam Schlereth (11-2), N, md. 1-Jr. Zach Herbert (24-5), S, 10-2.
285 -- 2-Sr. Kevin Lewis (26-8), HP, d. 1-So. Robbie Gennat (25-9), S, 2-1.
Outstanding Wrestler Award -- Austin Scrivani, Kittatinny.
Coach of the Year -- John Gill, Kittatinny.
Assistant Coach of the Year -- Ted Sibblies, Newton.

Third-place consolations

106 -- 3-Fr. Mason Godfrey (30-6), J, md. 4-Fr. Chris Hwang (26-9), S, 10-2.
113 -- 3-So. Maverick Liebl (12-9), HP, d. 5-Fr. Marcus Bitetto (17-14), S, 4-3.
120 -- 3-Sr. Chris Schrieks (26-11), J, p. 5-Sr. Justin Liebl (19-15), HP, 3:24.
126 -- 2-Jr. Mark Bohn (24-6), J, p. 5-So. Calvin Brook (18-12), K, :42.
132 -- 4-So. Shane Kobis (23-12), HP, d. 3-Jr, Ryan Luchs (21-10), PJ, 4-1.
138 -- 3-Jr. Nick Giordano (19-13), N, d. 5-Fr. Robert Ferucci (17-14), J, 4-3.
145 -- 4-Jr. Sean McHugh (18-14), S, d. 6-Jr. Trevor Kish (13-8), WV, 6-1.
152 -- 3-Jr. Aric Wingle (16-6), HP, md. 4-Sr. Billy Koenig (16-16), PJ, 13-0.
160 -- 3-So. Robbie Turro (18-11), HP, p. 5-Jr. Paddy Finnegan (10-19), 2:18.
170 -- 4-Sr. Joe Frumolt (24-9), PJ, md. 6-Fr. Luke Fischer (10-15), N, 9-1.
182 -- 2-Jr. Jakob Jakova (21-7), J, p. 5-So. Joseph DeLuca (12-12), N, 5:38.
195 -- 2-Sr. Colin Myles (15-18), PJ, d. 4-Sr. Nick Zaremski (10-20), N, 9-8.
220 -- 4-Sr. Andrew Nieves (22-7), PJ, d. 6-Jr. Connor Andrews (12-8), WV, 4-3.
285 -- 5-Sr. Griffin Waldron (9-10), K, p. 3-Sr. Avery Sheruda (30-6), J, :24.

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